Despite facing strong anti-incumbency against the State government in Uttarakhand, the BJP managed to secure a comfortable victory largely on account of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the satisfaction with the Union government.
Though incumbent Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami himself was defeated in his constituency, Mr. Modi’s campaign appears to have saved the party.
The Prime Minister was the visible face of the BJP campaign in the State.
Lokniti’s post-poll survey data show that there was relatively higher satisfaction with the work done by the Modi government at the Centre.
On the other hand, the State government evoked a lower level of satisfaction (Table 1). It needs to be stressed that a little over half the voters in the State were fully satisfied with the work done by the Modi government at the Centre.
If one looks at the net extremes (those fully satisfied minus those fully dissatisfied), the net satisfaction with the Union government as compared with Mr. Dhami’s tenure was higher by a whopping 34 percentage points.
The Modi government’s performance became the criterion for vote choice Another strong indicator highlighting the impact of the central leadership of the party was that most Uttarakhandis voted on the basis of the Modi government’s performance (Table 2).
About four in every 10 voters stated that they gave importance to the work done by the Union government and the data show that their vote largely went to the BJP. On the other hand, only close to two in every 10 gave importance to the work done by the State government and among them, the Congress had greater leads.
After having experienced five years of a double-engine government in the State, the support for the idea was still intact (with a slight decline).
More than half the voters (54%) endorsed the idea of a double-engine government, with just three in every 10 opposing it (31%). Back in 2017, close to two-thirds (63%) endorsed the idea of a double-engine government, with two in every 10 opposing it. The BJP had a greater lead among voters who endorsed this idea as compared with those who opposed it.
With the BJP changing its Chief Minister thrice during the five years in power, its campaign strategy was clearly to project the leadership of the Prime Minister.
This was clearly a crucial factor which helped the party return to power, making it the first time since the formation of the State, that a ruling party was voted back to power.
(Vibha Attri is a Research Associate at Lokniti-CSDS, Delhi & Sandeep Shastri is Vice-Chancellor, Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal and National Co-ordinator of the Lokniti network)